Last week, 11 entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their business plans to a panel of judges in the fifth annual Up-Start Competition. Designed as a culmination of CIBC Presents Entrepreneurship 101, entrepreneurs had 10 minutes to pitch their ideas, vying for a $10,000 prize.
The winner was Shape Collage, an online photo-collage application that has experienced remarkable success in the past year with over 1.5 million downloads. Founder Vincent Cheung was also honoured last week as the Student Entrepreneur National Champion in the Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship Expo in Calgary.
“I’m doing my PhD in computer engineering,” Cheung says in a Calgary Herald story. “I had no business background. It’s great to win and I learned a lot about the business side.” Much of that business experience Cheung learned at MaRS through the CIBC Presents Entrepreneurship 101 course and working closely with MaRS Advisors.
Although the limelight is currently shining on Shape Collage, every year the Up-Start Competition launches many other growing businesses.
Janet Markle, CEO of Groundswell Innovations, was recently awarded a grant from the Government of Ontario to continue her work in developing a web platform for companies to crowd-source scientific problems to eager grad students.
In March, Herman Lo from ViewsIQ received $5,000 from the YORKbiotech’s sanofi pasteur Healthcare and Biotechnology Venture Challenge for his system which maps out what a pathologist sees through a microscope in real-time.
The social venture Well of Change has been getting a lot of attention for their web platform where buyers can purchase services from volunteers (everything from knitting lessons to tree-trimming) with all the money going to charity.
One of the strengths of the Up-Start Competition is the wide range of businesses represented. Other highlights included:
Start on your business plans for next year – the way things are going, the competition is going to be fierce for Up-Start 2011.